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With thanks to the C&W RT originator Roll Bama Roll for hosting this week

1. What are your feelings on Alabama’s current position in the polls? Are we overrated? Underrated? Just right?

At the end of the fifth week of the season polls are finally starting to make sense. In fact, I am proud to be a voter in Senator Blutarsky’s Mumme Poll, which doesn’t begin to rank teams until this coming week. Alabama’s schedule and impressive wins have allowed them to overcome a lot of the pre-season bias that early polls often carry and I, for one, believe that a poll should be calculated first, by looking at what a team has accomplished, and second by how they might fare against other teams.

At any rate I am totally comfortable with Alabama’s ranking at this point. Beating two top-ten teams away from home is something no other team has done.

A case could be made for Alabama being number one, because Oklahoma’s list of victims is not as high-profile as the Tide’s but as I have said before, and will again, the only poll that matters is the last one. The important thing is that Alabama has positioned itself where it needs to be to reach its ultimate goal. Now, all they have to do is win, and if they do then there will be no need to plea to the voters.

2. What aspect of the game did Alabama control that shocked you the most? What aspect of the game was Alabama dominated in that shocked you the most?

I was going to say that I am no longer shocked by this team but that would be a lie. In every scenario that ran through my mind prior to last week, I never imagined that Alabama would dominate the first-half in that manner. I knew that the Offensive line was good but never imagined it was that good.

The kick coverage still concerns me although I don’t want to commit to the statement that Alabama was dominated in it. Not that this makes it alright but I have not seen any team with just great coverage up to this point.

3. Name your player of the game on Offense. Also name one on Defense.

On offense I’ve already given John Parker his name back (i used to refer to him solely as Ross’ Brother) and it is only right that I name him as offensive player of the game.

On defense, and this is becoming a broken record, but Terrance Cody gets the nod. His stats will never show it but he is so fundamentally important to this defense and their production. He is now garnering national attention and would have to be a shoo-in for All-American honors if he remains healthy. McClain and Andre Smith might be as well.

4. The Wildcats are a very quiet 4-0 with lackluster wins over Louisville, Norfolk State, MTSU, and Western Kentucky.  Obviously every game in the SEC is going to be a tough one and the Tide could be in danger of a letdown after such a huge win, so are you at all worried about UK?  Why or why not?

After the last ten years I am worried about every game and against every team. Kentucky has a sizable defensive line and has been effective against the run. It should be a challenge for the offense. I believe that Alabama can and should beat this team but that in no way keeps me from worrying. I was at the Tulane game amongst several other games in the past few years that I won’t mention.

People like to look at Oregon State over USC or Ole Miss over Florida and refer to them as flukes. Granted they are not the expected results, but nor are they that far from the norm in this age of parity. As Saban has drilled to the media and no doubt to his players, if you don’t come prepared every week and hit the field with a lot of intensity then you have the chance to get beat.
5. John Parker Wilson is a new man this season, looking like the kind of savvy game manager that can make just enough throws to keep defenses guessing we need in this offense.  What’s your take on his sudden emergence, and are you comfortable with him under center in clutch situations?

Just like the team, he still makes me nervous. The SEC Offensive player of the week has still only ended one come-from-behind-in-the-last-few-minutes drive with a victory and I can’t help but believe that he’ll have to do that again as this season progresses.

He is without question playing better but am I the only one that thought the offensive game plan was different for the last game and the first game than it was for the middle three? I really like this offense but I  think that they break it out for the special occasions as if it were some fine china. We heard so much about passing in the spring and fall and we’ve only seen passing in a few spots. He has to be better. with all those reps. He is not the best passer in the conference but it wasn’t his throwing skill set that bothered me about him, it was his tendency to not take care of the ball at critical moments. He is certainly a better manager, but he also has not been put into a lot of stressful situations. He most certainly will be as the season progresses. This is one of those enigmas that won’t work fully show itself until we have the whole season behind us.

I will say this, I am happy and content with John Parker as the quarterback. This is his team, but he still makes me nervous.

This is the fourth installment in my chronicles of the worst Alabama football games I have personally attended. The goal is to gain a little perspective about where we (as a fan base) have been and contrast the bad games with the good games in the past (and future).

You can find the previous entries here: No. 10 was the losses to Mississippi State in ‘06, UCF in 2000, and ULM in ‘07. No. 9 was the loss to State in ‘98 and No. 8 was the defeat against Georgia in ‘07 and No. 7 was the loss to Auburn in 2000.

No. 6: Alabama(23) at Arkansas(24) (2OT), Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Arkansas, September 23, 2006

Many years ago I set for myself the goal of attending an Alabama football game at every stadium in the conference. Up until 2006 I had never been to Fayetteville and it was the only stadium of a SEC Western Division school that I had not been to. When my new neighbor, who has business interests in the Fayetteville area invited me to attend the game with him I jumped at the chance.

In my lifetime, Alabama is 297-127-2, and I have been to approximately 120-125 of those games. More specifically, since 1995, when I started attending the University of Alabama, I have been to 111 games -that is every game in Bryant-Denny except one during that time span and all but two at Legion Field plus several away games – and Alabama’s record in those contests is 66-45. That means I have witnessed Alabama lose 45 times in person. What makes me pick ten and place them above the rest as exceptional losses? It’s a finely tuned and not easily explained combination of opponent, situation leading up to the game, what was at stake, and how Alabama performed. There is also another factor that makes a truly horrible experience; situation surrounding the game that have nothing to do with it and still affect your experience. This loss in particular was horrendous because of the simle fact that Alabama litterlly took defeat from the jaws of victory, but there were some other factors at play.

First off- I’m pretty sure that it’s easier to get to Tibet than it is Fayetteville. It’s definitely somewhere you go to and not through. It’s about 550 miles from Tuscaloosa. That’s farther than it is to Gainesville, or Lexington, or Columbia. But to its credit is a very picturesque place. The drive up from I-40 is quite scenic and when you get to the campus, the way the stadium sits on the hill is really pretty.

Because my friend and ride was coming home from vacation that day, we didn’t actually get to leave town until about 10:30 on Friday night. That’s about 16 hours prior to kickoff and we had to drive what seemed like 30 hours just to get there. Oh and there’s the sickness. I almost forgot the sickness. On Tuesday of the previous week I came down with strep throat for the first time since probably high school. On Wednesday I begged the doctor for shots of anything that would help me feel better. By Friday I was just starting to feel like myself again but I was still exhausted. Needless to say, when we arrived in at the tailgate, after about three hours of sleep at a hotel somewhere between Memphis and Little Rock, I was spent.

We passed through a huge rain storm between Little Rock and the interstate connector that takes you into Fayetteville and as we pulled into our parking spot the sky was still cloudy. The clouds surrendered to the sun as we made the steep walk up the sill to the stadium a few hours later.

Coming into this game Alabama was 3-0 on the season and going back to the start of the ’05 campaign was a combined 13-2.  The season had opened as expected with a win over Hawaii in which the team tried to give it a way in the end. They followed that up with a close win over Vanderbilt and an easy victory over La-Monroe (boy those were the days). This was to be the first road test for the Tide and a game they could win. After all the hogs had been dismantled by USC and then rebounded to beat a hapless out-of-conference opponent.

John Parker Wilson Ross’ Brother did a good job as a sophmore signal caller. Actually from what I remember he played very well, maybe even a little over his head. DJ Hall had great catch for a touchdown that put him over 1,000 yards for his career and the defense did admirably in stopping the Arkansas deadly duo of McFadden and Jones. In fact, I’m quite certain that had Alabama not lost a turnover that was returned for a touchdown that we never would have been able to argue about how Shula got all conservative and made the long march for an ill fated field goal attempt instead of going for the touchdown. Tiffin was horrible that day. He missed three field goals and an extra point. The last field goal would have won it in the first overtime and the missed PAT gave the game to the Razorbacks. It was the second time Alabama had lost to Nutt’s hogs in a four year period and the loss gave Shula a 1-2 record against Nutt.

It was heartbreaking to walk away from the stadium with the feeling that the game had been given away. Alabama beat themselves. That is one of the most frustrating types of losses. Losing to better teams isn’t necessarily good but it’s somewhat understandable. Losing to someone you had beat just makes you sit there and scratch your head and way “What just happened”?

In hind sight that became the game that started the wheels coming off of the Shula bus. A win there and the season probably turn out differently. A win there and he gets a little more leeway with the rest of the year. But it wasn’t to be.

After you sit there for a while and let the sting of defeat sink in there comes a point where you realize that you still have to drive home.

Did I mention that it was a long way?

[My new name for the roundup/link type posts]

I spent all weekend in front of the television and only saw him make one shot. Alabama’s Michael Thompson did indeed make the cut at the U.S. Open and took it a step farther by finishing 72 holes at 8-over tied for 29th and the low amateur. Congratulations Michael and best of luck to you as you start your pro career.

This is not as good as it sounds. Alabama senior signal caller Ross’ Brother (John Parker) Wilson has been named to the Johnny Unitas  Award watch list. According to the folks that give out the award it “takes athletic performance into consideration as well as off-the-field values of good character, citizenship, scholastic achievement and strong leadership.”

Which sounds nice in theory until you look at the other senior quarterbacks up for the award and find the name: Rhett Bomar, who in my opinion sets the bar for “off-the-field values”. In addition to the absolute best bangs in the conference, Ross’ Brother also is the owner of a DUI citation, which he received as a redshirt freshman (I think). I haven’t gone into details of the other watch list members but I’m thinking that the status of the award has taken a hit.

To clarify, I’m certain that both Bomar and Wilson have learned from their transgressions and are walking the straight and narrow and should be congratulated for that but if you’re going to give an award that claims to hold character in high regard then I think the candidates should have led unsullied lives up to this point. Besides, we already have a system to reward those who have screwed up and (cough, cough) straightened themselves out. It’s called elected office.

Also to clarify, in the event that Ross’ Brother leads the Tide to many victories or a few vivtories over certain rivals, I will propose that my wife have another child, just so that I can name it John Parker, be it a male or female.  I will also go on endlessly about how I have always loved the guy and knew that he was the man all along; as well as refer to him by his given name.

If he had his way. Doug Gillette continues his interesting look at what would have happened in past seasons if the old bowl system had implemented a “plus one” game to determine the national champion. In this installment he looks at the ’03 season. [Ed. Note: I’ve shamelessly ripped of Doug enough where I feel the need to provide a link and acknowledge his greatness plus this is a semi-sorta mea culpa for referring to his Georgia Bulldogs as Johnny-come-latelys in my post about the ‘07 Alabama-Georgia game.]

And finally, Haiku:

The temps are getting higher

Cleared players lower

Saban knows what he’s doing?

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